In 1991 when Doreen and Sebert Lane visited the Province of Barahona in the Dominican Republic the community of La Hoya seemed without hope. The school was just one old dilapidated classroom with 40 children attending, with many hundreds more who did not attend. The school contained only a few old desks and there was no other equipment whatsoever. They found just one book! A teacher told them he had to buy his own chalk.

Street sceneThe school had no electricity supply, the corrugated iron roof leaked badly and looked unsafe. The school had no water supply or sanitation.

 On their return to Gloucester in the UK, Sebert and Doreen told their friends and Church, the Lonsdale Road Methodist, about their experiences and that they felt compelled to return to La Hoya to work with the community to build a proper school. They also visited North United Methodist Church in Florida where, as frequent visitors, they were Associate Members, and enrolled their support too.

As a result, COPA was founded in England and in Florida to support Streetkidstheir work and within a few months they were back in the Dominican Republic working voluntarily with the community to establish the first COPA school.

Sebert reflects on the early days of COPA.